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Help For Minnesota Military Families with Kids

July 27, 2007

Minnesota is home to a unique program that addresses the childcare needs of families with military personnel overseas. Spokeswoman Ann McCully, with Minnesota ChildCare Resource and Referral Services says it's designed to address the needs of temporarily "single" parents and to give families with deployed soldiers an occasional break.

"To have options for everything from drop-in care for their children to just respite care when they need a break, to up to two days a month ongoing care, to try to address both the stresses and the gaps they might be facing in their child care needs."

She notes there are about 12,000 Minnesota children who have a parent in the National Guard and, with the latest extension of deployments, many of those families are facing two years of separation.

"One of the focuses of the program is to help childcare providers understand the stresses that families are going through and, to help them know how to better support the children and the families. These families lives have been turned upside down in some cases. One mother said she used the time to run errands, clean the house and get a massage. Just those kinds of small moments can make such a difference in the lives of families that are under such stress."

She notes another purpose of the program is to prepare kids for any family changes when their military parent returns. About 500 childcare providers statewide are already involved in the effort. McCully notes that the program adds to an ongoing effort to provide free and subsidized full-time childcare for deployed military families by providing off-hour, occasional and weekend care needs.

To find a provider or offer to provide childcare, go to www.mnchildcare.com or call 888-291-9811.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN